Skip to content

Archive for

The Christian Identity Crisis: A World Without Denominations

So how is it possible for Christians to unify under one doctrine for complete unity? Some may ask this question with little hope that it can be done or should happen. For those who follow the blog, we know that it should be done from Jesus’ prayer and out of obedience to God’s will. I have the confidence and faith that it can be done through the Holy Spirit coupled with our obedience. But back to the question of how this is possible. The most logical way to do this is by:

  •  First, creating a tight bond of love among Christians (This step seems easy, but as we learned from the last post it may not be) This will create genuine care for our community and a motive for closer association with all members of the Christian community.
  • Second, encouraging a loving and respectful discussion about doctrine in relation to scripture. This dialogue needs to happening in the laity as well as  among clergy and pastors.
  • A list needs to be compiled with churches and doctrines that appear to align with the Bible. Afterwards, the small differences need to all be noted to see if there are overlapping or replicated denominations because I’m betting some of the 1,5000 are redundant.
  • Then the denomination slashing needs to begin. This stage will continue until we compile a comprehensive doctrine backed by scripture and based on truth and by eliminating denominations and doctrines established primarily on minor preferences. This will take guidance from the Holy Spirit, prayer, and faith.

SAY WHAT? You were probably following along until I suggested slaying your denomination. But what about my church’s history and our beloved traditions? You know who else asked those questions and missed out on a great opportunity? The Pharisees. So yes, I am suggesting that you be open to surrendering your current identity. This should all be easy if we were truly following the first step and loving our brothers and sisters as we love ourselves.

You may be wondering what love has to do with with doctrine. We love to use the expression that someone is like family whenever we feel close to them. By family, we mean people that we want to be affiliated with and want others to know are of great significance to us. Family shares a last name (for the most part). How weird would it look for a loving, loyal family to all choose different last names for themselves and take pride in their independence from one another? In a sense, this is what denominationalism is like. The closer to get to someone the more you want to identify your loyalty to them. I have come to realize when you finally get to this point of love with a variety of God’s people the term Christian is not enough; it is the only label that should be used to link us. It is the family name, not Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentecostal, Calvinist, Fundamentalist, Episcopalian, Church of Christ, or AME. For Paul says:

12 Now this I say, that every one of you said, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)

But It can also read:

12 Now this I say, that every one of you said, I am of John Calvin; and I of John Smyth; and I of John Wesley; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? Was John Calvin crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of John Smyth?

Yep, unity means surrendering your histories and some of your traditions based on man. It means having an identity crisis until our family comes together in love and loyalty. Some may feel that it is better to agree to disagree. If you feel that way, please browse the Bible verse section. My intent is not to criticize anything but our disobedience as Christians and to encourage us to love and be one body as Christ calls us, not the universal lie as we claim to be (view this argument in the previous posts).

It is okay to enter a love spurred identity crisis. I’m in one now as I review doctrines and worship with my brothers and sisters whose churches I never dared to enter when they weren’t apart of my denomination.

The only identity I have now is Christian. That is the way it should be.

“Challenging you to be challenged by God”

L.M.

Advertisements

Have It Your Way! Consumerism Christianity in America

One thing we have to be aware of as Christians is that we often let our culture trickle into our religion. America is known as the land of liberty and freedom–freedom to have it your way with multiple businesses ready to conform to the consumers’ needs. With pampering like that, we are use to moving on to the next product and service whenever we find something distasteful about our current one consequently creating the replacement attitude and discouraging the problem solving and negotiating nature necessary to work things out and come to peace. But of course that is just too much hard work. If we do not make ourselves aware of this tendency we can easily become like the Christians mentions in 2 Timothy chapter 4:

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

With that said, America has the largest amount of denominations over any other country with 1,500. Talk about have it your way! We have 1,500 ways we can have it as Christians, which is 1,499 more than we need. I have no doubt that some of these are the result of people being “…rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a FORM OF GODLINESS but denying its power” (2 Tim 3:4-5). Some will argue that that denominations are necessary for reaching diverse crowds or necessary because others have interpreted the Bible incorrectly. While this may be true, my question is, “What happened to churches trying to response to these problems and come to peace?” I know what happened, someone stood up and said, “This is America, I don’t have to deal with this! I’ll form my own church. It’s a free country!”

While that might be a dramatic statement, T.S. Elliot does point out in his book Christianity and Culture that “religion may be too easily accommodated to a variety of cultures, and become assimilated without assimilating”. This could not be more evident in our “why tolerate it” and “this isn’t the way we do it” attitudes in the United States. He reveals that divisions may be cause by religious doctrinal difference, but political, social, and economic “doctrines” also play a role in separately associating. Think it doesn’t, then I challenge you to find a church where everyone is of the your opposite political party or one where everyone is a different race or one where all members earn $50,000 less or more than you. Thought twice about that I bet! Bet that even made you think about why your chose your particular church among others of your denomination. Hopefully, some reality was revealed about just how much you love the universal Christian community in contrast to comfort. Newsflash! If you are a comfortable Christian you are not growing. There are farther limits you can push your love. Take up your cross!

I challenge you to take a good look at your doctrines (before you get ready to point fingers at someone else) and ask yourselves if having it your way is really about your beliefs or about God. Because if it is about God, I can tell you that Jesus explicitly states that He wants complete unity among us John 17:23. The only way we can achieve this unity is to dedicate ourselves to loving our brothers and sisters even as we love ourselves instead of antagonizing those who choose to worship differently or attend a separate church from us. When we can show each other true love and desire for God’s will and blessing for everyone, then we can have that “argument” that will be necessary to bring us back to one mind. That can’t happen until we follow the second greatest commandment. When we do, our obedience and love will bring about reunion as intended. So let’s let love renew our minds…or sadly you can continue having it your way only grasping a form of godliness but denying its power. Godliness has the power to unite us all through love if we let it.

Try visiting to the last church you ever step foot in this week. Note if you feel a sense of judgement or compassion.

Are you willing to continue visiting until you feel compassion?

Will you allow yourself to be easily offended and return to comfort?

“Challenging you to be challenged by God”

L.M.